Places to Camp in Illinois

There’s a lot more to Illinois than the great city of Chicago. Along with this exciting urban hub there are many natural areas where locals and residents alike enjoy getting outside. With 141 parks it’s no wonder the DNR created the motto, “State Parks, Great Parks” in 2013. This phrase is the title of their initiative to continue improvements on local natural areas with upgraded campgrounds and additional staff to cater to the more than 44 million yearly visitors looking for hiking and camping in Illinois.

People from all over the state – and even outside the country – take the short 1.5-hour drive from Chicago to Starved Rock State Park, where they can hike 13 miles of trails offering elevation gains on wooded pathways along the Illinois River. The 18 canyons serve as great places to spot waterfalls after a rain and families love ending the day with s’mores around the bonfire at the nearby Starved Rock State Park campsites.

Those looking to learn about the state’s heritage while camping in Illinois may head farther south to Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park & Memorial. This 162-acre park is 12 miles southwest of Decatur near Harristown, IL, and features the land where Abraham Lincoln first resided in the state. If you visit be sure to check out the memorials commemorating this important president.

People who want to mountain bike in this Midwestern state will enjoy heading to Palos Park, a forest preserve known for its excellent biking, hiking and equestrian trails that cover over 50 miles of terrain. When it comes to camping in Illinois, this locale offers beautiful facilities at Camp Bullfrog Lake where you can put up a tent next to a lake and hike short or long loops that end up back at your campsite.

If you want to check out the beautiful Lake Michigan drive to Illinois Beach State Park to spend time in the water along the 6.5 miles of sandy shoreline. The park is 4,160 acres offering ample opportunities for hiking, watersports, picnicking, fishing and camping. With The Dyrt, you can be sure to find the best camping in Illinois during your stay in the Prairie State.

Best Camping Sites in Illinois (491)

    Camper-submitted photo from Starved Rock Campground — Starved Rock State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Starved Rock Campground — Starved Rock State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Starved Rock Campground — Starved Rock State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Starved Rock Campground — Starved Rock State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Starved Rock Campground — Starved Rock State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Starved Rock Campground — Starved Rock State Park

    1.

    Starved Rock Campground — Starved Rock State Park

    94 Reviews
    311 Photos
    412 Saves
    North Utica, Illinois

    Hunting Closures this fall: November 18-21 & December 1-5

    Starved Rock State Park on the Illinois River bluff in La Salle County is one of Illinois'​ most beautiful destinations. Camping near Starved rock features 18 canyons w/ vertical walls of moss-covered stone formed by glacial meltwater that slice dramatically through tree-covered sandstone bluffs. More than 13 miles of trails allow access to waterfalls, fed season runoff or natural springs, sandstone overhangs, and spectacular overlooks. Lush vegetation supports abundant wildlife, while oak, cedar and pine grow on drier, sandy bluff tops. Camping near Starved Rock offers recreational opportunities abound, from hiking to camping to fishing, boating and hunting. Special events are scheduled throughout the year. The Starved Rock Visitor Center is open year-round, and the 1930s-era stone and log Starved Rock Lodge offers luxury lodging, cabin rooms, and fine dining. Starved Rock State Park in Illinois is a dream destination for a midwest nature getaway.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access

    $25 - $35 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Rock Cut State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Rock Cut State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Rock Cut State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Rock Cut State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Rock Cut State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Rock Cut State Park Campground

    2.

    Rock Cut State Park Campground

    75 Reviews
    228 Photos
    238 Saves
    Machesney Park, Illinois

    Located 10 miles northeast of Rockford, Rock Cut State Park is a 3,100-acre recreation area that encompasses two natural grasslands, a natural creek area, a nature preserve and 162-acre Pierce Lake. The area was designated a state park in 1957 as a way of preserving a local polititian’s favorite fishing hole. Prior to this, the park and wider area has a long history of Native American residence, including the Mascouten, the Winnegabo, and the Chippewa. With abundant water and preserved natural areas, the park now supports a thriving habitat for local birds, fish and wildlife. And with year-round camping and outdoor activities, you can experience the many seasonal sides the park has to offer.

    The campground at Rock Cut provides 270 sites that can accommodate tent campers, as well as RV and trailer campers up to 40 feet. Back-in sites are mostly grassy and equipped with picnic tables, cooking grills and electrical hookups. The campground provides water faucets, restrooms, showers, and a dump station; the water and dump station are not available November through April. One of the park’s multiuse trails runs right through the campground, and provides access to the larger trail network. Most of the campground’s facilities are ADA accessible. Dogs are permitted in the park, but must remain leashed; alcohol is not permitted.

    For recreating in temperate seasons, more than 40 miles of hiking, cycling and equestrian trails allow you to explore the park’s woodlands and prairies. These are ideal ways to observe some of the local birds, animals, and wildflowers. For fun on the water, paddle around in a canoe or kayak, take a dip at Olsen Beach, or go fishing for some of the lake’s largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, pike and walleye. Several picnic areas throughout the park are ideal for group or family gatherings. In the snowy season, many of the park’s trails are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, with gear rentals available. For more family fun in the area, check out the nearby Volcano Falls Adventure Park.

    For those who want to include an overnight stay in their visit to Rock Cut, the campgrounds provide electricity at the site, water hydrants at the beginning of each camping loop, sanitary dump stations, showers, toilets, a boat launch and playground equipment. There are 210 Class A Premium sites and 60 Class B/S Premium sites. There is also a primitive cabin (it has electricity, but does not have water or plumbing facilities).

    From November - April, only electricity is available; there is no access to water or dump station.

    Equestrian camping is restricted to a site on Hart Road, is only available on a first-come, first-served basis and the Ranger will collect the fee at your site in the evening.

    Rock Cut is an alcohol-free park and campground, and this rule is strictly enforced.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access

    $12 - $50 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Adeline Jay-Geo Karis Illinois Beach State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Adeline Jay-Geo Karis Illinois Beach State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Adeline Jay-Geo Karis Illinois Beach State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Adeline Jay-Geo Karis Illinois Beach State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Adeline Jay-Geo Karis Illinois Beach State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Adeline Jay-Geo Karis Illinois Beach State Park

    3.

    Adeline Jay-Geo Karis Illinois Beach State Park

    65 Reviews
    130 Photos
    290 Saves
    Zion, Illinois

    The campground in the southern unit at Illinois Beach provides 241 Class A Premium sites with electricity and access to showers and sanitary facilities. You must obtain a camping permit from the park staff, and must have a camping unit upon arrival.

    The campground is open from April 1 through December 30. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance at ExploreMoreIL™. Reservations are only accepted from May 1 - September 30. Due to the high use of this area on holiday weekends, reservations are recommended. Campsites also are available on a first-come first-serve basis, but understand that the campgrounds fill up early on Fridays during the summer season. Six handicap accessible campsites are present in the campground near the accessible restrooms and a dump station.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access

    $25 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Pharoah - Garden of the Gods Rec Area Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Pharoah - Garden of the Gods Rec Area Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Pharoah - Garden of the Gods Rec Area Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Pharoah - Garden of the Gods Rec Area Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Pharoah - Garden of the Gods Rec Area Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Pharoah - Garden of the Gods Rec Area Campground

    4.

    Pharoah - Garden of the Gods Rec Area Campground

    52 Reviews
    208 Photos
    472 Saves
    Karbers Ridge, Illinois

    One of the most photographed locations in the state, Garden of the Gods' scenic beauty is extraordinary. In the recreation area you can hike, camp, nature watch or picnic.

    The Observation Trail features unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness. Interpretive signs explain the geological history. The 1/4-mile trail is made of natural sandstone and takes about an hour to walk. It contains short, steep grades and steps; benches are located along the trail and as a whole the trail is not tiring. Caution should be used due to the high cliffs in the area.

    Overnight parking allowed at Backpacker's Parking Lot only (Indian Point Trailhead). Pets are allowed only on a leash. Picnic areas and Observation Trail are open 6am-10pm. Use trash receptacles where available. Pack It In, Pack It Out while on trails. Camp only at designated sites in the campground. Disposable food and beverage containers are not permitted on the Observation Trail. Stay on the designated trail and leave the beauty of the rocks and plants for others to enjoy.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • RVs
    • Tents

    $10 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Redbud Campground at Bell Smith Springs
    Camper-submitted photo from Redbud Campground at Bell Smith Springs
    Camper-submitted photo from Redbud Campground at Bell Smith Springs
    Camper-submitted photo from Redbud Campground at Bell Smith Springs
    Camper-submitted photo from Redbud Campground at Bell Smith Springs
    Camper-submitted photo from Redbud Campground at Bell Smith Springs

    5.

    Redbud Campground at Bell Smith Springs

    32 Reviews
    142 Photos
    290 Saves
    Eddyville, Illinois

    Bell Smith Springs is one of the most beautiful recreation areas the Shawnee National Forest has to offer. It contains a series of clear, rocky streams and scenic canyons bordered by high sandstone cliffs and an abundance of vegetation unique to Illinois. The trail system consists of eight miles of interconnected trails featuring strange and wonderful rock formations, such as Devil's Backbone, Boulder Falls and a natural rock bridge. Hiking this system of trails is a favorite activity because of the rock features, scenic overlooks, hidden springs and lush flora and fauna.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • RVs
    • Tents
    • Group
    • Standard (Tent/RV)

    $15 / night

  1. 6.

    Shawnee Forest Campground

    31 Reviews
    53 Photos
    178 Saves
    Vienna, Illinois

    Located in the Middle of Southern Illinois just Off I-24 it is a great place to stay while you explore all the the Shawnee Forest. From Giant City to Garden of the Gods. The Tunnel Hill bike trail is a half mile away and Cache River is just down the road. We have 60 Full Hook up sites. Large pull through sites up to 120 feet long. We have Shower Houses and Laundry Facilities. Our Campground is Open Year Round.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • RVs

    $40 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area

    7.

    Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area

    32 Reviews
    94 Photos
    171 Saves
    Shabbona, Illinois

    The Shabbona Lake SRA campground has available 150 Class A Premium campsites, with 90 campsites available for advanced reservation through www.reserveamerica.com. Additionally, 60 campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. All sites have electricity, picnic table, fire rings, and vehicle access. A sanitary dump station is available to all campers. One family is allowed per campsite, or four unrelated adults with up to two tents. Campers must be ready to camp upon arrival. The campground may be closed during the spring thaw due to road conditions. Alcohol is prohibited. To check on the status of the campground or for further information, call 815-824-2106 during the week or the campground check station at 815-824-2565 on weekends.

    There is also a Campground Store on-site that offers firewood, groceries, snacks, ice cream, camping supplies, fishing tackle, and boat rentals.

    Camp Cabin Two rent-a-camp cabins are available at the park. The rustic cabins have two rooms and will accommodate a maximum of six people. They are located on the shore of Shabbona Lake. Electric baseboard heat allows year-round use of the cabins. No Pets are allowed in the cabins with the exception of service animals.

    Youth Group Shabbona Lake's Youth Group camping area will accommodate two groups of up to 50 campers each. Water and privies are available at the site, but there is no electricity.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access

    $25 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Comlara County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Comlara County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Comlara County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Comlara County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Comlara County Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Comlara County Park

    8.

    Comlara County Park

    32 Reviews
    88 Photos
    86 Saves
    Hudson, Illinois

    Welcome to Comlara County Park, a hidden gem just northwest of Bloomington, Illinois. This place is a nature lover's paradise, centered around the stunning Evergreen Lake. Spanning 925 acres, the lake is perfect for boating, fishing, and kayaking. With two boat launches and a separate canoe/kayak launch, getting on the water is a breeze. Fishing here is top-notch, with largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, saugeye, muskellunge, and crappie waiting for you.

    The park offers four campgrounds with a total of 144 sites, including options for tents, RVs, and even glamping. While some campers have noted that the sites are a bit close together, the park's cleanliness and organization make up for it. If privacy is a priority, check out Site 31, which is tucked away with woods on two sides.

    Amenities here are solid. You'll find electric hookups, drinking water, showers, toilets, and a sanitary dump station. There's also a beach for swimming during the summer, playgrounds for the kids, and several large shelters for group gatherings. Firewood, ice, and fishing worms are available at the visitor center.

    For those who prefer primitive camping, the area west of Evergreen Lake near White Oak offers excellent lakefront sites with their own boat docks. It's a bit more secluded and perfect for those who want to feel more connected to nature.

    If you need a break from campfire cooking, nearby El Paso has some decent dining options, or you can make the drive to Bloomington for a wider selection, including some fantastic deep-dish pizza at Giordano's.

    Enjoy your stay at Comlara County Park, and happy camping!

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    Camper-submitted photo from Moraine View State Recreational Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Moraine View State Recreational Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Moraine View State Recreational Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Moraine View State Recreational Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Moraine View State Recreational Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Moraine View State Recreational Area

    9.

    Moraine View State Recreational Area

    27 Reviews
    27 Photos
    88 Saves
    Le Roy, Illinois

    Moraine View State Recreational Area, near Le Roy, IL, is a solid spot for camping all year round. This place has a bit of everything, from tent sites to RV accommodations. If you're into fishing or kayaking, you'll love the lake here. Some campers have mentioned that the water looks like coffee, so maybe bring your own drinking water just to be safe.

    The campground has electric hookups, showers, and toilets, which is always a plus. The main shower house is well-maintained, and the roads have been recently paved, making it easier to get around. Pets are welcome, so feel free to bring your furry friends along.

    For those who enjoy a bit of privacy, there are some secluded spots, especially around Catfish Bay. Just be prepared to walk your gear in from the parking lot if you want one of those prime waterfront sites. The park also has a market for any last-minute supplies you might need.

    Group camping is a hit here, with plenty of space for multiple tents and a good atmosphere for socializing. The park is family-friendly, with lots of kids running around and having a blast. Just a heads-up: the potable water situation can be tricky, so make sure to fill up your tanks before you enter the campground.

    Overall, Moraine View offers a decent camping experience with beautiful lake views, plenty of shade from tall trees, and a peaceful environment. Whether you're staying for a night or a few days, it's a good spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access

    $40 - $20 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Great Falls Campground — Illini State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Great Falls Campground — Illini State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Great Falls Campground — Illini State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Great Falls Campground — Illini State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Great Falls Campground — Illini State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Great Falls Campground — Illini State Park

    10.

    Great Falls Campground — Illini State Park

    26 Reviews
    44 Photos
    116 Saves
    Marseilles, Illinois

    Illini State Park is the type of park you think of when you think of big picnics and family gatherings. With its rustic Civilian Conservation Corps buildings and riverside picnic areas, Illini State Park offers beautiful views and a sense of history not found in many other parks.

    Picnic areas, shelters and playgrounds are found throughout the park. Several of the shelters also have working fireplaces. Both tent and trailer campsites, including electric and sanitation service, are offered and some of the sites offer outstanding views of the river. A youth camp area is available for youth groups.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access

    $12 - $55 / night

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Frequently Asked Questions

What camping is available in Illinois?

According to TheDyrt.com, Illinois offers a wide range of camping options, with 491 campgrounds and RV parks in Illinois and 5 free dispersed camping spots.

Which is the most popular campground in Illinois?

According to TheDyrt.com, the most popular campground in Illinois is Starved Rock Campground — Starved Rock State Park with a 4.1-star rating from 94 reviews.

Where can I find free dispersed camping in Illinois?

According to TheDyrt.com, there are 5 free dispersed camping spots in Illinois.

What are the best parks in Illinois?

According to TheDyrt.com, there are 5 parks in Illinois that allow camping, notably Shawnee National Forest and Carlyle Lake.